Millwall 2-3 Middlesbrough ~ Match Report

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Middlesbrough at home is not the stuff to make your average Millwall fan chomp at the bit but it was good enough for just about 11,000 lions fans to make the effort and turn up to see if we could stuff them for a third time this season.

What were the odds on that..?

A shameful turn out from the nappy rippers of the north, barely 800 of them made the journey down, a pitiful following from an erstwhile premiership outfit that really emphasises the falseness of their supposed status as a big time outfit.

I think it has been said before that God created the world in six days and the seventh day he rested…that’s when Beelzebub came out and took a dump thus creating Middlesbrough…

The weather was overcast and gloomy, a portent we clearly did not take on board as me and MrsB made our way to the East Upper to see what sort of team Mr Jackett had selected. Interesting, I think, best describes the staring eleven, Forde in goal, Dunne, Robbo, Purse and Barron across the back line, Hackett, Abdou, Trotter and Henry in the midfield with Morison and Harris as our striking pair.

Referee Sargison got us underway and we went straight at them, forcing a corner, the first of many, after about 15 seconds of play. Unfortunately nothing came of this and that set the pattern for most if not all the following corners, a somewhat frustrating statistic we really do need to work on.

Our open play was much more penetrating, Hackett combining well with Barron down the left flank saw the ball end up across the park with Henry whose first time cross was clumsily dealt with and the loose ball dropped into Morison’s path and he connected well enough but the ball zipped past the wrong side of the post.

I would like to say it was all one way traffic but we got caught out a couple of times in quick succession by some swift counter attacking by the visitors but thankfully both times the ball fell to Lita who made a complete balls up on both occasions.

We also had Robbo to thank for a perfectly timed challenge as they breached our defences again but almost immediately after this James Henry found some space and hit a pearler that rattled the Boro crossbar.

All this and only ten minutes played…

After fifteen minutes we took the lead. Along ball out of defence by Forde saw Morison out jump his marker and head the ball onwards. Harris, looking a lot sharper than usual, got behind the last man and as ‘keeper Steele came forward, Bomber at last opened his account for this season with a deft touch that saw the ball move sweetly into the back of the net. 1-0 and well deserved it was too.

Next up we had Morison having a go with crisp effort that flew just over the top followed by Henry have a couple of long range efforts that perhaps were a tad ambitious but we were in clear command now and all we needed was that second goal for a bit of comfort…

Morison had another effort blocked by what looked like an out stretched hand but referee Sargison signalled just a corner despite most of the Millwall side (and most of the crowd) bellowing for a spot kick.
It really was very entertaining and both sides seemed determined to make a real fist of creating an attacking game. Robbo again came to the rescue as Lita took the ball around Forde but couldn’t get it past the captain and right on the stroke of half time Morison missed a real gem of a chance, failing to bundle the ball over from about three yards out and as the whistle went for half time it all looked nice and rosy and the second half couldn’t come quick enough.

The second half was, shall we say, mesmerising? The euphoria of the first half performance was still in tact and the lads started with the same controlled attacking play, forcing two corners and Morison again just missing the target with a header from a very good Barron cross.

But shortly after this and with less than ten minutes of the half gone, disaster struck. A hopeful punt up the pitch saw Purse challenge for the high ball and referee Sargison saw some sort of infringement by the Millwall man and ordered a free kick to be taken by the visitors.

A good 28 yards out, McMahon hit a curling shot that rifled past the despairing hands of Forde and into the top corner. 1-1. It was against the run of play and knocked us a bit off of our stride.

Five minutes later the whole game changed. Boro’ spurred on by their equaliser managed to work the ball through our back line and when Zemmama slotted the ball forward to McDonald 11,000 voices called “off side” as one voice. He was so offside it wasn’t even close.

The linesman on the East stand side kept his flag down and McDonald tapped the ball home. 1-2.

Anger, rage, fury, you choose which word best describes how you felt but even though 99% of Millwall fans in the ground were adamant that McDonald was clearly offside, the flag waver stood firm, sure in the knowledge he had made the right decision.

If, however, you, dear reader, are still sure it was offside then I am afraid the last time someone was as wrong as you, was when a politician stepped off an aeroplane in 1939 waving a piece of paper in the air saying “there will be no war with Germany ”

Subsequent replays show quite clearly that McDonald was on side and the bottle throwing, pitch encroaching people are going to get banned for no real reason at all, save from the obvious reason of throwing bottles and encroaching onto the pitch.

So now we are 2-1 down and the natives were baying for blood and the players responded well enough as the crescendo of noise rose to a feverish pitch.

Mr Jackett needed to mix things up a bit and he decided to blood new signing Bouazza for Hackett and the new man looked keen to get involved.

We won a free a kick just outside their box and the smart money was on Henry to step up to the plate but Bouazza was also standing by the ball and I soon became apparent that he was going to take the free kick. Not really knowing what to expect, we waited in anticipation of something special, maybe for once seeing a free kick beat the wall and put some pressure on the ‘keeper. What we got was a stunning free kick that would grace any premier league game. Bouazza became an instant hit with the fans by rifling the ball into the top corner of the net sending the home fans into raptures of delight. 2-2 and the game was back on the boil.

We were now going for the win and the Boro defence were on red alert as we forced them back time and again but all to no avail.

Then with just over five minutes left we got caught by a sucker punch that we really didn’t deserve. A half hearted cross into our box saw the ball skim off the head of Lita and the ball drifted past the stranded Forde and nestled into the bottom of our goal. 2-3.

We tried, we really did, to get back on level terms and it is fair to say we had our chances in the few remaining minutes with Trotter hitting a shot that was well saved by Steele and then sub Lisbie was unceremoniously hacked down inside the area only for referee Sargison to again wave away the penalty appeals.

Six minutes of stoppage time could not help us get that third goal and as time was finally called we had to face facts that we had been mugged by an inferior team who just got lucky on the day,

There is no time to dwell on “the what might have beens” though as we have an away trip to Reading on Tuesday night so let us move on and see what we can get from this local encounter.

See you all there?
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